Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Observations of a Librarian in the 21st Century

Wow...can't believe we are already sixteen (nearly seventeen) years into the 21st century!  Do you remember saying something in high school like, "When it's 2015 I'll be (fill in the blank) years old!" Education is changing to adapt, and so is the pedagogy.  And it's all because society and culture impact teens today so much more differently than ever before.  With that in mind, I came up with some things I believe a 21st century library should be aware of.

1. Teens are connected, and so are adults

via GIPHY
Walk down any hall of a high school and you'll see cell phones, laptops, tablets, and headphones galore! Make sure libraries are connected as well.  This is now the standard norm, so libraries should not only be book driven, but device and peripheral driven too. 



2. Learning is done more through video than ever before

via GIPHY
Youtube, TedTalks, MOOCs...watching and learning are more accepted than ever before.  When most new web tools have intro videos, take advantage of it.  Create screencasts to "teach" students.  Being visible is now done in front a camera and libraries should put themselves in the spotlight.



3. Reading preferences guide people and libraries.

via GIPHY
Some like e-books, some like hardcopy.  Paperbacks, hard copy, newspapers, magazines.  Kindle, Nook, Overdrive, Follett, Netgalley, Edelweiss, and sites for fan fiction are diverse, but they have one thing in common - people who read use them for pleasure, and academic pursuits.  And it make libraries re-think the concept of shelf space.




4. The virtual world is a lot larger than the physical one.

via GIPHY
 We don't live in a world where teens get home, eat a snack and do their homework.  It's now more like get home, eat something, binge watch Neflix, check Snapchat or Twitter, then do homework...at midnight...or later.  Make sure the library can meet them there.  Create an online presence ASAP!




5. Handwriting is old school.  Keep that in mind when you're creating signage

via GIPHY
There are actually teens out there who only know how to write their name in cursive because of documents.  Sigh.... And if that's the case, you know they can't read it.  So make sure that if the library has displays, signage, or posters, that they use a font that to reach all users. Be cursive aware!


6. Social Media is the new telephone



via GIPHY

Personal landlines are passe.  Teens today may not understand how a pay phone works, much less a party line.  They communicate en masse with social media.  And when they "talk" to each other it's through text.  Calling someone? That's ancient! Leverage these for the library so teens can communicate their way, making the library easier to access.



7. There is significant relationship building happening online.


via GIPHY
 Just when you thought you knew it all, catfishing for teens has taken on a completely new meaning.  Relationships of all kinds begin online and then can become face-to-face.  From using Remind for classes or Groupme for people with similar interests, there are ways libraries can create an online academic relationship with students.




8. Teens have an entrepreneurial spirit.

via GIPHY
 Interesting fact: the founders of Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat's average age is TWENTY-TWO.  Don't underestimate the genius of teens.  They are changing our future.  Heck they even created a new language adults had to learn - emoji, which began in the late 1990's and now has over 800 characters used in countless devices.



9. Teaching is not about lecture, but a participatory culture

via GIPHY
It's one thing to talk to teens, but it completely morphs when teens talk, create, and group together to learn.  Make the library that place where teens are learning in all sorts of ways.  If we are worried about their interaction with people because of their obsession with devices, participatory culture MUST happen. 




10. Libraries should not just have books....they should have a whole lot more

via GIPHY

And I'm not talking about computers (although that would be nice!) Think about things that could be checked out to patrons that are out of the norm.  How about gardening tools?  Anyone love to bake? Crafters could always use knitting needs and crochet hooks.  Sports equipment doesn't always have to belong in the gym and budding artists can save money by checking out brushes. JACKPOT!

Friday, December 2, 2016

'Twas the Night Before Techmas 2016 edition

For the past two years, I've created an infographic showing some great webtools for the classroom. So, if you have time and want to try out new tools, try these!  Click on the icons to take you to the sites listed.
And if you missed the last two here are the links:
Techmas 2014 edition           Techmas 2015 edition


Monday, November 28, 2016

Gundpowder Girls by Tanya Anderson

Quindaro Press, 2016

The Civil War is the bloodiest war that happened in our country, killing millions and uprooting our country both economically and personally.  We've heard of places like Antietam and Gettysburg.  We also know the name of people associated with the Civil War, such as Ulysses S. Grant and Abraham Lincoln.  Why do we know this?  Because it is taught in curriculum and found in textbooks.  But there is always the hidden documented history of the Civil War most people don't know about. These are true stories about the women of the Civil War.

Long, hot days at work, most of the time twelve hours of labor six days a week.  Coming home after walking to and from work stained with twelve hours of labor and dust.  Thinking about the danger of the job but knowing it needed to be done to keep a roof over their families heads and food on the table.

Most of the workers were considered women in that era.  Today, they would be considered children and teenagers.  Girls as young as 10 were chosen because they hands were small and quick, making for a more productive product.

The product?  Ammunition for the guns and muskets used by both sides of the Civil War.  Imagine sitting at a table filled with small metal balls, paper, string, and gunpowder everywhere.  There is no safety equipment nearby and no regulations keeping the workplace safe.  It was just the girls working together in cramped quarters, wearing the traditional heavy hoop skirts, working in a potentially life-threatening job.  And during the Civil War, three different tragedies occurred...

This book is the stories of not only the tragedies, but also about the girls themselves, and the investigation and outcome of those responsible.  Tanya Anderson shares with the reader not only the stories, but also her in-depth research and how she become intrigued with this part of the Civil War.  What is most impressive about this is that voice the book is written in.  This isn't a dry tome of American history, but voices of the victims, witnesses, and others that were part of these tragedies, including Abraham Lincoln.

What makes this a draw for teens is the size of this narrative non-fiction and the interest the author creates to pique interest in what will happen next.  Perfect for junior high and high school libraries, this should be on the shelves showing readers that women were passive bystanders of the Civil War, but involved in many ways in the conflict.  Highly recommended.

Fiction book pair:
Divided We Fall by Trent Reedy

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

YA Poster: Great Non Fiction for Teens

I used to be a minimalist.  I believed that the library walls should be blank so the emphasis was on the books and displays on top of the shelves.

I have VERY MUCH changed my mind about that...

There are some great places to get YA Books posters:

From vendors Follett, Mackin, and Junior Library Guild
Epic Reads Blog
Teen Librarian Toolbox
Lunanshee's Lunacy

The last two are fellow librarians I absolutely love, both online and in person!  So I thought to myself that I need to start trying to create some themed YA book posters myself and emulate those I adminre.  So here's the beginning of my poster venture! As always, please feel free to download and print and post :)

Monday, November 14, 2016

I Laughed Until I (fill in the blank): Humor in YA literature

Yesterday, we had a great discussion on #readYAlit Twitter chat about humor in young adult literature.  It's a nebulous genre because humor can mean something completely differently to one person than another. 

Is humor universal?  That was one question that was tackled in our chat.  Genders, experiences, and type of humor are different elements of humor that play an important part in that question.  There is guy humor and there is girl humor.  How each gender approaches it can be wildly different and how authors use it can reflect those differences.  That isn't to say either gender can't read humor that relates more to one than the other...it's just the appeal may lean toward one side more than the other.

And then there's humor that's found in serious books.  One participant wrote that humor is needed in YA literature to balance the realistic lives in fiction that can be dark and dangerous.  I have to be very careful about what I read so that I'm not focused on realistic fiction because of an incident that took places several years ago.  After booktalking, a student mentioned that it was depressing and she wasn't interested in any of them because of the mood I created with the titles I talked about.  And that student was RIGHT....so now I find as many different genres, and include humor in it. 

There are many different places online to find titles about humor that could help out any library and those wanting the "fun" side of YA lit.  If you genrefy, does it have it's own genre or it is part of each major genre (one librarian on the chat had an EXCELLENT answer to that one!)? Would you include humorous titles with those darker novels where humor peeks in every now and then (think John Green)?  Those are questions that I believe are more personal decisions, but the great thing is the exchange of ideas our chat last night held. 

And if you need a title list, never fear!  Here are a few resources you can use:

Ebsco's Novelist of Humorous YA Fiction by Tom Reynolds

YALSA's Genre Guide to Young Adult Humor

Humor in YA Fiction Flowchart

And then there is that often looked over section where you can find MANY humorous titles: Non-fiction (and dewey)!!  Here's my list of non-fiction/dewey I've read that I couldn't help but chuckle and sometimes outright laugh at:


The Stupid Crook Book by Gregory Leland

Cake Wreck: when professional cakes go hilariously wrong by Jen Yates
How They Croaked: the awful ends of the awfully famous by Georgia Bragg
How They Choked: Failures, flops and flaws of the awfully famous by Georgia Bragg
Visit Sunny Chernobyl: And other adventures in the world's most polluted places by Andrew Blackwell
Historical Heartthrobs: 50 timeless crushes from Cleopatra to Camus by Kelly Murphy
I’m Down: A memoir by Mishna Wolff
We Should Hang Out Some Time: Embarrassingly, a true story by Josh Sundquist
Emily the Strange graphic novels by Rob Reger
Happy Bunny Books graphic novels (?) by Jim Benton


Thursday, November 10, 2016

Wolf by Wolf by Ryan Graudin

Little, Brown and Co, 2015

1944.  Yael remembers her childhood....the needles poking into her thin frame, the straw in the mattress she shared with her mother in the barracks, the beatings, the deaths.  And she is reminded everyday by the tattoo on her arm put there by the Nazis.

1956.  Her tattoo is now covered by five wolves. and although Yael no longer sees it, the wolves remind her of those she loved who died.  She is no longer a young child, but a young woman and part of the resistance movement.  Twelve years after the horror of the concentration camp and the experimentation she went through with the Angel of Death doctor, life is still dangerous. 

Hitler is still in power, and the face of Europe has changed. There are now two world powers:  the Third Reich, and Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere, ruled by Hirohito in Japan. The Soviet Union and Italy have fallen.  Hitler now uses areas in Europe and Africa as Lebensraum, a place for Aryan people to live, thrive and grow.

Yael is an integral part of the plan they have to get rid of Hitler once and for all.  Yael is special because she has unique abilities, ones she received from the experimentation done to her in the camps.  She can now change shapes, becoming someone totally different without anyone knowing who she truly is.  Even she is wonders who are what her true self is....

But that doesn't matter as much as getting close to Hitler.  And there is only one event where this could possibly happen - The Victor's Ball in Tokyo.  Every year, the Axis Tour happens, a cross country grueling motorcycle race.  Prague. Rome. Cairo. Baghdad. New Delhi. Dhaka. Hanoi. Shanghai. Tokyo.  Not all riders will see it to the end and only the victor will be allowed at the ball. 

Yael has stolen the identity of Germany's finest racer, a girl named Adele.  That was the easy part.  The difficult part is surviving the race and wondering who is telling the truth and who isn't.  Can she trust Adele's brother, who says he's there to protect her?  What about Luka, her old rival and lover, who says one thing that could mean another?  Most importantly, will Operation Valkyrie work and put an end to Hitler's reign?

How did this book slip through my hands?  I couldn't read this fast enough.  An alternate history dystopian book, this had all the elements to keep readers intrigued from the characters and their endgames to the fallout of Europe after WWII.  Descriptive in narrative, the reader will be pulled straight into the espionage as well as the life or death race that will leave them gasping at the end.  Sequel published this year (and I can't WAIT to read it!)  If you have readers wanting great dystopia in an alt history, give them this!  Highly recommended 7-12th grades.

Non-fiction book pair:
Hitler Youth: Growing Up in Hitler's Shadow 
Susan Campbell Bartoletti

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Books to Give To Teens Who....

I tried my hand at making an infographic, and first of all, I must say KUDOS to those who create the "What To Read If You Like..." et al.  They are time-consuming!

So in the middle of that, I thought, "hey, why not make a website instead?"  So using Adobe Spark Page, that's what I did :)  Here is the result:


What To Give Teens Who...


Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Booktrailers Mashed Up, Re-Done, and Upgraded!

This year, I was fortunate to have a presentation approved for the 2017 Texas Library Association Conference.  What I'm going to present on are different ways book trailers can be made by thinking outside the box.  So, I've been experimenting and one type of video I absolutely LOVE are Common Craft Videos.  And since imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, I decided to take something I really enjoy and create a book trailer designed like it.  The process will be part of the presentation, but here is my first attempt at booktrailering alternate ways:

 
I still have four more different ways to work with!!

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Connecting the Real World with YA Books

Nothing says "I want to read that" more than making connections between teens and books.  It's kind of like buy-in....you have to put something they can relate to into a booktalk to make that connection. And when that happens, you better stand back and let the stampede begin!
When I booktalk I always try to make sure there's a personal connection to the book that's interesting or even anecdotal.  And you can do this many ways...through a picture, a video, a story, interesting facts...anything.

So here are some books I've booktalked and how I tried to connect them to teens:


The Season of You and Me by Robin Constantine.  I LOVED that this novel had a main character who was handicapped...you don't see that much in YA lit.

Connector: mention the movie Me Before You...enough said.









The Women in the Walls by Amy Luakvics.  You can't have an October booktalk without having a book about a creepy house, can you?

Connector: Ever dangled your foot beside your bed at night?  Especially after watching a horror movie?








Mark of the Thief by Jennifer Nielsen: slaves, soldiers, and ceasars.  Mix them up and put them in a fantasy Roman Empire, and you have got their attention.

Connector: Let them show off their knowledge by asking them who the most famous Ceasar was of all time.  Then mention a salad was named after him followed by the true story of the ceasar salad. Corny joke, but that's how I roll

Book trailer




The Novice by Taran Matharu: An orphan at birth, the main character has more power than he knows what to do with, until he meets up with some very interesting characters.

Connector: What exactly are Pokemon? No, they aren't cute card characters, they are deadly WEAPONS!  (this plays nicely into the "demons" the characters can manipulate)

Book trailer 




The Darkest Corners by Kara Thomas: small town and one horrible murder leads to eyewitnesses who aren't sure if they saw what they did or were persuaded to see what they did...

Connector: Give them the history of unsolved murders like the Black Dahlia (but not too much detail).







The Girl from the Well by Rin Chupeco: nothing gets creepier than Japanese folktales come to life.  Especially if they seek revenge in the most ghoulish of ways.

Connector: Because I'm half-Asian, I tell them some folktales my mother told me and my sisters like the Peach Boy.  And I also ask them if they've ever seen The Ring or The Grudge...

Book trailer




Everything Everything: over ten year never stepping outside, never having friends, never falling in love.  Well, that's what happens to the main character until a family moves in next door.

Connector: Ask people who do NOT have allergies to raise their hands.  Then ask those who do and ask if anyone has an unusual allergy

Book trailer





With Malice by Eileen Cook: two best friends on a tour of Italy (and not the Olive Garden variety) end up in a car crash.  One died, one survived but can't remember because of a concussion.  Then the Italian police arrive to extradite her for murder.

Connector: tell them the story about Amanda Knox.  Make sure they know this is a true story.






A Storm Too Strong by Michael. Tougias: Talk about the ride of a lifetime.  Who wouldn't want to ride 80 foot waves in winds over 60 miles an hour on a rubber life raft in the middle of the night?  Now multiply that by 100 and you have Hurricane Andrea meets Survivors

Connector: I start this one out by saying this is a story about two men who have witnessed and seen something no other man has lived to tell about.  Then I show them what real waves look like via Youtube because the kids are a bunch of landlubber North Texans and don't understand life by the sea.

Show this video first                  Show this video second (just first 10 secs)



Amazing Fantastic Incredible by Stan Lee: this is by far the most colorful (literally and figuratively) memoir I've read in a long long time.  A comic book memoir by the king of all comic book characters!

Connector: do you really have to ask?  The cover itself is enough to catch their attention...or at least the attention of comic book and Marvel fans! Comic books aren't just for nerds, and regardless, we will embrace our nerdiness anyway :)

book trailer

film clips of Stan in Marvel movies (start at 12:48)

Friday, October 14, 2016

Webtools That Are Too "Suite" to Pass Up!

The amount of webtools out there are astounding, sometimes to the point of being overwhelmed.  In an area filled to the brim and overflowing with sites, sometimes all we need is a few sips.  There are two suites online that I ABSOLUTELY love. Why?
1. there's only one web address to type
2. the options are there to choose from instead of only have one tool, one choice
3. the built-in functions for each tool has so many options that doesn't limit personal style or creativity.


So let's get to it!







The best part about this suite?  It is COMPLETELY AND UTTERLY FREE!  You don't have any hidden premiums that will bum you out and put a damper on your creativity mindset.  All you do is go in and start creating!  The pure simplistic approach to creating a digital project is what makes this tool my go-to.  The only downside is because of its simplicity, projects can tend to look the same unless the user really goes the extra mile to create and upload images, text, and audio that's been self-created.  The three tools within Spark are:

Spark Post (social media and online banners and posters)
Spark Page (webpage creator)
Spark Video (online video creator)

With a little practice anyone can make an amazing digital project.  What helped me a lot was watching what others created and mixing and folding them to create something different.  What's even better is that once you create something, you can use the link to put it into a different Spark project.  App smashing WITHIN in an app...now that's different!!















Visme is free to use and have very intuitive tools that are easy to manipulate, edit and create.  That is what makes Visme a site students enjoy.  You have the option of creating from scratch or creating from a template.  The user needs to be aware that this is not a completely free site and there are certain areas (such a graphics, music uploads etc) that are premium and can only be used with a paid monthly subscription.  But educators, rejoice!  Visme works with non-profit entities to provide a discount, so look into that as well.  The three tools in Visme are:

1. Presentation
2. Infographic
3. Banner (to make a free one use the custom design dimensions)

Some options allow for advanced creativity, which is nice for those who want to build a more tailored project, but the simplicity of using any of the tools is great for all users.  The infographic tool is a great addition to any suite, and this one has some meat on its bones.  Even the blank template has parameters beginning users will find helpful.  Once done, you are given a link to share, an embed code AND a download.